Each day at noon, senior citizens from around the area converge on the Dodge City Senior Center, located at 2408 Central Ave., to have lunch and spend time with their peers.
The senior center offers balanced and nutritious meals that are planned by a dietician. There is a five dollar charge for the meals, but those that are unable to afford it are not turned away. “You kind of pay what you can afford,” Fred Gould, vice-chairman of the center, said.
Though some of the seniors that eat at the center do so out of need, many come just to be around other people and to get a well-balanced meal, Gould said. If the senior center didn’t offer the nutritious meals, it is likely that many of the seniors would rarely get to enjoy one. “You can’t cook the quality of food at home for the price and we wouldn’t anyway.”
“Most of the people come here to interact with other people. It gives them a reason to get up and take care of themselves,” Gould said. At the center, there are seniors from many different backgrounds. “Look around. Look at how many people there are.”
Albert Bartel, a retired trucking company owner, just started coming to the senior center. “I am 75 years old and I just retired four months ago,” he said. “I have worked hard all of my life. It is nice to have freedom. I have a lot of fun now.”
Bartel has lived in Dodge City for 35 years, but he has always said that he didn’t have many friends here because he stayed so busy at work. “I have discovered that I have lots of friends here,” he said.
Spending time with the people that are more elderly than him is important to Bartel. He enjoys maintaining relationships because he understands the importance of friendship. “’I’ve never met a stranger. I love people,” Bartel said, “There are a lot of people who have frailties. One day I will be in their shoes. I partly already am.”
Bartel said that the laidback atmosphere at the center is conducive for relaxation and friendly conversation. “It breaks up the day and gets my mind going in a different direction,” he said.
Mary Ann Timion comes to the senior center to eat at lunchtime and to chat with her peers. “I like to pick on the guys and give them a hard time,” she said, with a laugh. “They are good company, good company.”
Page 2 of 2 - Linda Roush also routinely has lunch at the senior center. “I met some really nice people here. The people are wonderful,” she said.
Another member of the center, Marie Ross, expressed gratitude for the services that the senior center offers seniors like her. Ross noted that the cooks are very friendly and are excellent at what they do. She wishes that other seniors would come down to have lunch and participate in the other activities at the center. We are all happy with the senior center. We would welcome anybody 55 and older to come join us,” she said.
Gould, the vice-chairman, said that in addition to the daily meals, the senior center brings in people to play music and sing, on occasion. Presentations and speeches are sometimes given by people who are knowledgeable about issues that affect seniors.
The senior center also offers a number of different activities on an ongoing basis including exercise classes, tai chi, bridge, billiards, line dancing, knitting and crocheting, and dominos. Several groups host meetings at the center including: a Bridge Club, the Doll Club, the Quilt Club, the Golden Girls, Senior Companions, Senior Friends, and ElderCare.
The senior center tries to offer services that seniors are interested in and that are not offered by any other organization in town, Roxanne Hornberger, the executive director, said. In her opinion, it would not be wise to spend the center’s limited funds on programs and activities that are already being offered elsewhere.
Gould, the vice-chairman, said the senior center isn’t merely a club; it’s a real service to the community. “This isn’t a club. There is no membership fee. You don’t have to be nominated. There is no secret handshake.” He added, “Any senior is automatically a member. If you are 55 you are welcome. If you are younger than that, you are still welcome.”
More information about the center can be found at www.DodgeCitySeniorCenter.com or by calling Roxanne Hornberger at (620) 338-8863. Monetary donations and donations of goods are accepted and appreciated.